When Humanity reached out into space, its initial instinct was to colonize as many Earth-like planets as possible to ease the overpopulation problem on Earth and conquer new frontiers. Along the way, they could often solve specific problems, such as food production shortfalls and remedy the scarcity of rare metals used in spacecraft construction. Since Earth’s home system already had planets that were rich in valuable gasses, gas mining in other systems was established as an afterthought so that the cost of fuel was more affordable for long-range vessels.
Following the disintegration of the Stellar Imperium, most Human worlds have become distrustful of one another. Many stand on the brink of war, either due to the scarcity of resources or because of perceived sleights. Some argue that it would benefit all of Humanity for the Earth to become the political center of these worlds again, however most of the former colony and resource worlds insist on independence and are willing to defend it if necessary.
Recently, tensions have been increasing between Earth and Lamog once again and many predict that this will lead to a conflict at some point in the near future.
Planet Type: Terrestrial
Climate: Earth normal
Equatorial Circumference: 20,291 miles
Planetary Diameter: 6,459 miles
Major Industry: Research and development
Government Type: Democracy
Rotation: 28 hours
Orbit: Approximately 1 Earth year
Relatively close to Earth, but discovered after Upagra, Aruim is an Earth-like world that began as a simple colony. In contrast with Upagra and the later discovered Lato, Aruim was a world with a relatively mild climate. As such, it was the first extraterrestrial colony that was actually a destination of choice for people seeking to escape the confines of the human homeworld. It was so popular, in fact, that a lottery system had to be put in place to deal with the legions of people who wanted a chance to start over on a pristine world. This system had a number of effects. First of all, in ensured that everyone who was willing to undertake the voyage had a fair shot at making their way to the new colony, rather than only those who were already well off (though there were a few of those who were able to simply commission a ship of their own to take them to the new world). This led to a population that came from different backgrounds and all walks of life; this cosmopolitan beginning resulted in a pluralistic mindset where everyone was eager to cooperate with one another, which was a major factor in the success of the colony. Secondly, it established population control early on, preventing what would have otherwise been a veritable flood of human influence, which could have easily spoiled the primeval planet within decades. In the long run, however, the most important (if unintentional) consequence was that it left those who eventually made it to the new world with the unconscious idea that they were in some way “chosen,” and not just chosen by lot, but by fate, to be the stewards of this new world. No citizen of Aruim would admit to this, of course, even if they realized it, but that attitude has influenced life and politics on the planet for centuries.
Over time Aruim has become a popular place to base corporate headquarters, simply because of the pleasant climate and unpolluted atmosphere. Most of the actual manufacturing is done off-planet, the better to minimize industrial waste. Until recently this was done back on Earth; however, with the fall of the Imperium Aruim became more isolationist and began constructing orbital manufacturing platforms. This severing of ties has led to a greatly strained relationship between the homeworld and her former colony, which few Aruimites care about anyway.
Unlike Earth, strong measures are in place to prevent the pollution and overpopulation of the planet. Laws were passed requiring everyone to collect and condense at least 96% of their pollutants so that they can be reprocessed or fired into the local star. Because of the strong stewardship of this planet and the strong corporate presence here, they have managed to avoid the problems of poverty and crime, which plague so many other worlds. The poor simply do not exist because everyone is offered fair compensation for work, jobs are plentiful, and a strong ethic of civic responsibility prevents people from abandoning those who are not physically or mentally capable of work.
Of course, the downside of such an idyllic and unspoiled world is that immigrating to this world is difficult at best. The only way a person is allowed to settle in Aruim is if they already have family here, or if they are offered a job by one of the corporations. In order to implement this policy, Aruim has one of the largest and most complex citizen registries of any government in known space. Every resident, either at birth or upon acceptance as an immigrant, is issued an ID number and their information entered into a vast network of computers that track them throughout their life on the planet. Though it may seem incongruous with the near-utopian ideal of life on Aruim, the system is carefully calibrated to be as minimally invasive to privacy as possible, and the vast majority of citizens see it as a necessary evil to keep undesirables off their planet.
And off planet is exactly where they want undesirables. Anyone who is found to have committed a crime, or an immigrant who loses their job, is shuttled to the spacedock in orbit (one of the largest in human space, since any business with outsiders is conducted here) and deported to Earth or the last world they inhabited before coming to Aruim. However, the deteriorating relationship with Earth has complicated this policy, with authorities on Earth dragging their heels or outright refusing to accept deportees. This has forced the administration to convert a wing of the spaceport into Aruim’s first ever prison – a fact that many natives find abhorrent.
Recently, a relatively small but ever brewing conflict has started with Dodor over nothing more than quality of life. Many living on the arid world seek residence on the pristine world, but have been turned down largely on the basis that the desert dwellers do not offer anything of value to the idyllic world. In response, the small military of Dodor has jumped in and engaged the planetary defenses long enough to shuttle down several transports full of infiltrators whose job is to blend in with the populace and try to bring about change from the inside. These operatives must tread very carefully, since in order to penetrate Aruim society the first thing they had to do was upload forged credentials into the planet-wide database. The plan has worked so far, but they work under the constant threat that their falsifications will be uncovered.
Plot Hooks: Aruim Technologies is paying good credits for pirated prototypes; a desperate group of refugees is looking to get smuggled onto the planet’s surface; the party is tasked with transporting waste off the planet, but something else is hidden among the cargo…
Planet Type: Gas giant
Color: Yellow and white striped with swirling storms
Equatorial Circumference: 152,632 miles
Planetary Diameter: 48,584 miles
Major Industry: Gas mining
Government Type: Fascist dictatorship
Rotation: 11 hours
Orbit: Approximately 30 Earth years
Corrya was established as a hydrogen mining colony by Earth in the early days of the Interstellar Concord. Prior to the creation of this colony, the primary source for hydrogen, which remains the main fuel used in sublight travel, was Jupiter. As Earth settled more and more systems farther and farther away from Earth, it became clear that more hydrogen mining worlds would need to be established if the price of hydrogen were to remain inexpensive in the outer systems. As such, Corrya was founded less as a colony and more as a business venture. Residents do not consider themselves “Corryans,” but rather look at themselves as citizens of whichever planet they came from. Even those miners who were born and raised here trace their lineage back to their parents’ or grandparents’ (or even farther) home planet, usually Earth. While this has led to some friction between groups of workers from different backgrounds, it is much less than one might expect, for one simple reason: they are all miners, and for the most part, they consider this fraternity to be more important than heritage.
One large gas mining platform, the size of a medium-sized city, floats in Corrya’s upper atmosphere. Following the fall of the Stellar Imperium, control of Corrya has fallen to the former governor, Eli Majur, who has taken to running the operations with an iron fist. He rewards efficient workers while severely punishing those who he considers to be “wastes of perfectly good oxygen.” How one feels about this arrangement depends mainly on which group you fall into. Those who are on Eli’s good side by and large feel that the others could improve their lot if they quit complaining and did their jobs, while those who have been on the receiving end of Eli’s wrath point out that, whatever their transgression may (or may not) have been, the punishment far outweighs the crime. To make things worse, Eli controls all access to and from the mining platform; no one can leave without his express permission. One might think that he would be glad to see the “losers” gone from his operation, but the truth of the matter is, he needs workers to turn a profit, and his efforts to attract more have understandably met with little success.
Not that those people who most wish to leave could afford to do so even if they were able. Nepotism is the rule under the new regime; promotions, raises, and other perks are doled out entirely at Eli’s whim, as are pay cuts and other demerits. So far this system has worked more or less successfully due to the fact that Eli is, at heart, a businessman, and as such values productivity, work ethic, and good business sense above most things. As a result, no one truly incompetent or unqualified has been put in a position of authority as of yet. That said, it is far from a meritocracy: many perfectly qualified people have been passed over simply because Eli didn’t like them as much as he liked the other person. This state of affairs is exacerbated by the fact that many of Eli’s favorites hold a similar mindset, to the point that it seems to permeate every level of management. Most people simple shrug and either learn to play the game of earning their superior’s favor, or simply do the best they can and try not to get on Eli’s bad side.
One thing they would not stand for, however, is having outsiders come in and take their jobs, and unbeknownst to them, that is exactly what Eli is attempting to accomplish. With Corrya so close to Tallinite space, Eli has come to admire the insectoid race’s dedication and tireless work ethic, and would like nothing more than a mining platform staffed entirely by Tallinites. Never mind that he already runs his facility much like a Tallinite hive: food and living quarters are strictly rationed, with workers having a small stipend that they may spend on sundries at the company store (also owned by Eli, with prices set to make sure he makes a profit there, too). Unfortunately for him, tales of how he has taken to running Corrya has become fairly common knowledge in the surrounding systems, making recruitment hard enough as it is. The Tallinites, who find human business practices baffling at best, are downright appalled at the stories they hear coming out of Corrya, and no incentive that Eli can offer has been able to convince them to come under his employ. Little does Eli realize that this is a blessing in disguise; if he ever successfully recruits a group of aliens to come work at his facility, that very well could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and causes his oppressed workers to rise up against him. If this were to happen, he had best hope that those in charge of such an uprising were supporters of his before – otherwise, he could easily lose more than his job.
To remain an independent world, Eli spent several years’ worth of profits to purchase five capitol ships and numerous smaller ships for defense, as well as hiring a number of ex-military to train and drill what workers he would deign to spare for their operation. Despite these safeguards, this system has become a hotbed of activity for raiders who prey on the ships carrying massive tankers filled with liquid hydrogen; add to that the fact that his “fleet” has a bare minimum crew, which in turn has a bare minimum of training. To combat this, Eli has made it known that anyone who can help rid them of this problem will be richly rewarded.
Plot Hooks: A member of the party receives a cryptic message from a friend or relative working on Corrya that is actually an encoded plea for rescue; certain interested parties among the Tallinites request the players to confirm if the stories they’ve heard about Corrya are true or not; the crew foils a raider attack on a hydrogen transport and is offered a deal by Eli Majur to continue serving as protectors of the facility – a deal that turns out too good to be true…
Planet Type: Terrestrial
Climate: Uncomfortably hot
Equatorial Circumference: 32090 miles
Planetary Diameter: 10,214 miles
Major Industry: Colony
Government Type: Democracy
Rotation: 28 hours
Orbit: Approximately 3 Earth years
This relatively small terrestrial world was colonized during the height of the tension between the humans and the Lamogos. Despite the uncomfortably warm climate, Dodor was chosen because the planet provided a strategic location from which to build up military assets and launch incursions into Lamogos space. When the Interstellar Concord was created, the military became far less important and the inhabitants began to focus on simply making this a viable place to live. Nonetheless, several weapons manufacturers maintain a corporate presence on Dodor. With no unified stellar governments to restrict the sale of arms and piracy at an all-time high, these companies are seeing a significant increase in their bottom lines.
Dodor is a place of wide, sweeping deserts with seas that go on for hundreds of miles, but are otherwise completely enclosed within the continents on which they reside. Massive irrigation makes food production possible.
The vast majority of the people here make their homes within one of three great cities, while a minority run agrofarms. Since land is not a particularly valuable commodity on this arid planet, and founding a new settlement is a massive undertaking with so few natural resources, each of the three cities have simply expanded outward over the decades as their populations required until now they are all sprawling metropolises that span hundreds of square miles. Even so, each city has a population density of well over a thousand people per square mile, and overcrowding is quickly becoming a major issue.
The progression of this urban expansion took the same route in all three cities. The wealthy, looking for more room and privacy, would build new homes at the edge of town, leaving their old residences to be bought up by those of lesser incomes, until these new neighborhoods inevitable got crowded again, leading to the rich moving outward once more, and so on down the line. Thus, if one is of a philosophical bent, travelling through one of these cities can be not only a journey backwards through time but also a study in outward appearances versus inner decay. The outskirts (commonly referred to, only semi-sarcastically, as the “suburbs”), being the newest parts, are shiny and clean, built to the exacting standards of the wealthy who paid for them. Farther in, you find the last expansion, now owned by the upper middle class, where the buildings are older and not quite as nice. As you go deeper, the buildings get progressively older and meaner, while the residents get progressively poorer, until you come to the squalid city center. Here, crime and urban decline are rampant, as respectable businesses have also abandoned their old buildings for greener pastures (another turn of phrase the residents of Dodor use with a heavy dose of irony). This assumes, of course, that you make it that far. Most city officials are more than happy to present their shining exterior while ignoring the downward spiral occurring at their core; thus, visitors are encouraged to keep to the outer parts of the city, with city planners going so far as to design public transportation routes that follow a ring throughout the city rather than cut through the middle. Authorities have even cordoned off the central districts when particularly important visitors or business clients have come to town, citing “public health concerns.”
Among the features of this world are wondrous feats of architecture built amid the desert sands, many of which have religious significance. Dodor has been called the world of religions because it contains major centers not only for the primary faiths that originated on Earth, but many prominent ones that began on other worlds as well. All religions are welcome, and a large percentage of the population belongs to one of these organizations, but the planetary government has a strong policy of removing any groups that try to propagate religious intolerance or actively try to steal membership from other churches. A few of the larger agrofarms have been bought up and converted into communes for pilgrims from particular sects who wish to be isolated so that they may live according to the tenets of their faith, but these are a very small minority. The majority of the faithful are content with their secular lives, and see no reason to rock the boat with needless religious conflict, and in fact look upon the isolated communes with a small degree of suspicion.
A large number of people living on Dodor seek to leave the planet and go to a more hospitable world. The world’s government has agreed that it is important that their people be allowed to do so if they wish, partially because they fear the uprising that would occur if people largely become dissatisfied, but mostly because they lack the resources to keep everybody fed. The ideal world they would send their people to is Aruim, which has made it clear that they do not want them. Diplomacy has broken down and Dodor has begun military exercises where they forcibly insert their people onto the other world. More recently, the old shipyards of the first Interstellar War have been reactivated and churning out new warships, the Dodorians seemingly prepared to use at least the threat of violence to achieve their goals. Many believe that the authorities on Dodor would not go to the length and expense of commissioning a new fleet of battleships if they were not planning on using them, and that the conflict will escalate into a full scale war soon. If this were to happen, most outside observers agree that Dodor would have the clear military advantage and could easily subjugate the people of Aruim in open conflict. What is less clear is whether, once the smoke clears, Aruim will still be a planet the Dodorians want to immigrate to.
Plot Hooks: The party’s ship could use a little more firepower, and Dodor is the place to get it; the crew answers a distress call from an isolated religious community; the PC’s need to investigate a crime in the heart of one of the cities, but are hampered at every turn by authorities who would rather just let it go away.
Planet Type: Terrestrial
Climate: Earth Normal
Equatorial Circumference: 24,902 miles
Planetary Diameter: 7,926 miles
Major Industry: Homeworld
Government Type: Democracy
Rotation: 24 hours
Orbit: 1 Earth year
Earth is the human homeworld and remains the cultural center, despite the problems that have plagued it for the past several hundred years. The population explosion of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries did not stop until there were nearly twenty billion humans on the planet. At that point, the tipping point was reached as the environment began to rapidly degrade, food production slowed, and nearly half of the population ultimately perished. Those who remained belonged primarily to those nations that had solved their population problems long ago and provided for their own people. Europe and the Americas did particularly well, while the rest of the world suffered major losses.
Humanity’s expansion through the stars led to two major changes in Earth’s geopolitics. First, early encounters with alien races made the disparate nations of the planet realize that the human race needed to project a unified front when dealing with extraterrestrials. Thus, the role of the United Nations was greatly expanded until it eventually evolved into the United Earth Council, the voice of humanity to the rest of the cosmos. Its role has diminished somewhat since the collapse of the Imperium; however, as the sole administrator of the Earth Defense Force, its power and influence is far from inconsiderable.
Secondly, with the signing of the Interstellar Concord and the expansion of free trade with the rest of the known galaxy, business had to adapt to the new reality of an interstellar marketplace. When faced with races like the Tallinites, for whom the concepts of capitalism and market competition were completely indecipherable, the fair labor policies of the 20th century – organized unions, minimum wage, and the like – as well as environmental protections became too burdensome for Earth businesses and were eventually abolished. The end result of these changes is a present day Earth that looks like something out of a Dickens novel: the world remains densely populated, and the environment is far from recovered. The air is choked with pollutants, the streets in every major city are crowded, and there are still large portions of the world just barely scraping by. Many would leave this planet for one of the others if they could simply afford the ticket off. While the poor struggle, the rich have reached new heights of excess. They seal themselves off from the common people in mighty towers and expansive estates. They breathe only top-quality filtered air, and they have access to the best technologies, foods, and finery available from throughout the known galaxy.
As has always been the case throughout history, the growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots has reached critical mass, and unrest has begun to simmer. Many are calling for a return to the progressive policies that then had led to increased standards of living and a boom for the middle class. Concurrently, environmentalists have also arisen to demand that humanity take responsibility for what they’ve done to Mother Earth and work to correct it. Many people from both groups have flocked to the banner of Jacob Billings, a wealthy heir and philanthropist. Though born and raised on Aruim, Jacob maintained a romantic ideal of the human homeworld that was abruptly shattered during a recent business trip to Earth. Now, he has dedicated vast sums of his personal fortune to improving both the ecosystem and the lives of the common people. Some, however, are dissatisfied with the pace of his efforts and have resorted to more direct, less legal means of “encouraging” change. One particularly vicious eco-terrorist group, the Avengers of Terra, maintains that humanity itself is the Earth’s biggest problem, and has no compunctions about “thinning” the human herd in order to save the planet.
Humans existed on Earth long before the discovery of faster-than-light travel, and it would continue to exist without it, though it could very easily face another mass die-off if some way to produce enough food to support its entire population were not found. It remains the cultural center of for humanity, especially in the entertainment industry. Virtual sets can recreate any setting, since filming “on location” on a distant planet has become too expensive and dangerous to be practical. Avant-garde composers continue to experiment with alien musical traditions to create new and exciting songs; the current trend is the use of the Relarran’s haunting underwater melodies as a background loop for more traditional Earth harmonies. And of course, interactive electronic entertainment is still amazingly popular. The advent of the display contacts led to a resurgence in the “alternative reality” genre of video games; players receive game information and updates straight to their contact HUD’s, and thus can be playing their game of choice almost anytime.
All this culture is usually exported to other worlds, however. Few people from other planets desire a trip to Earth; those who do come are usually here on business.
Plot Hooks: “Pirating music” takes on a whole new meaning when a famous singer is kidnapped en route to Earth and held for ransom by raiders; the players stumble upon a plot by the Avengers of Terra to develop a biological weapon that only targets humans; the characters are involved (knowingly or otherwise) in the beta testing of a new alt-reality game – a game so advanced, it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s part of the game and what isn’t.
Planet Type: Asteroid Belt
Major Industry: Metal/mineral mining
Government Type: Socialist
Orbit: Approximately 1.5 Earth years
Igand is rich in rare and precious metals needed for the construction of starships and other high-tech devices. It was founded in the early days of the Imperium when excavators from Lato, looking for new mining opportunities, were doing geological surveys of nearby systems. Knowing that the resources on Lato, which had been mined extensively for over two centuries by that point, would eventually be exhausted, the survey team was getting so desperate that they took a chance and braved the asteroid field. Much to their surprise, they found deposits so rich they had no choice but to recommend establishing operations within the belt.
Asteroid mining is an incredibly dangerous proposition. Asteroids are not stationary, but shoot through the belt at varying speeds, colliding with one another and sending both rocks careening off in different directions, or worse, smashing them into a bunch of smaller pieces. Large asteroids are easily detected and easily avoided; the biggest hazards in an asteroid field are the tiny, imperceptible ones. Because of their small mass, they can reach astonishing speeds, and at such velocities, even a chunk as small as a fingernail can damage or even puncture a ship’s hull. Ships travelling through an asteroid field are best equipped with advanced sensors that can handle the vast amount of objects in the field without crashing the computer, as well as anti-grav generators to repel the smaller pieces.
Early mining operations centered on a single huge, moon-sized asteroid. Anti-grav towers were set up at strategic points along the asteroid’s surface, creating a protective repulsion barrier all around the asteroid. Specially fitted mining ships latched onto the surface and bored into the asteroid with low-powered lasers. A targeted gravity field pulls the detritus the laser drill generates into the ship’s hold, where the crew takes it to the processing lab, separating the useful ores and depositing the waste back onto the surface of the asteroid. After about a hundred yards or so of tunnel was drilled in this manner, the opening would be capped with an airlock and the interior atmospherically pressurized. Then the real work would begin.
In the years since its founding, the majority of the asteroid has been hollowed out; its tunnels and chambers structurally reinforced, artificial gravity installed, and exhausted mines turned into residences and commercial districts. The bulk of the population of the asteroid belt is now concentrated here, which has earned it the name “Igand City.” Due to the haphazard construction, however, not all of the artificial gravity floors were installed in the same direction. As a result, anyone travelling through Igand City will periodically have to go through what are known as “zero-g locks” in order to reorient themselves to the new gravitational direction. These zero-g locks also serve to divide the city into distinct districts, often named after the mining vessel whose crew initially carved out that section of the asteroid. Some highly paid contractors live in their own ships and mine asteroids that lie greater distances away from the city, much in the same manner Igand City was initially mined. Other ships, known as “skimmers,” traverse the belt collecting the smaller chunks and debris that float freely through the field, breaking them down, and taking what materials of value they can find back to Igand City to be processed.
Igand declared itself a free colony upon the collapse of the Stellar Imperium, and it has hired a number of mercenary groups to defend its right to exist. The planet Lato, which operated the mining facilities during the reign of the Stellar Imperium, has also claimed the asteroid belt as their own and periodically invades the system with the intent of annexing it. This campaign has proven costly to Lato, as Igand is surrounded by the best natural defense in space. In response to this, Lato has turned more and more to hiring raiders rather than professional soldiers, as the pirates are known to use asteroids to their advantage in ambushes. However, Igand still has another ace up their sleeve: an unlikely alliance with the prison planet, Unnir. The anti-authoritarian sentiments of Unnir’s residents make them sympathetic to Igand’s independent aspirations, and many are willing to fight on the mining facility’s behalf, often at a much lower rate of pay than other mercenaries.
Planet Type: Terrestrial
Climate: Warm and arid
Equatorial Circumference: 21,348 miles
Planetary Diameter: 6,795 miles
Major Industry: Colony
Government Type: Socialist
Rotation: 20 hours
Orbit: Approximately 1 Earth year
Jillara was never intended to be a wondrous land of opportunity for the people who settled there. When the planet was discovered, Earth had decided that it was too arid and would take too much effort to settle. Others knew that it could be done, but why bother when there were already more suitable worlds? And so the idea was officially scrapped and Jillara remained untouched until the mid-2500s.
Then in the mid-2500s, a disenfranchised family of out-of-work manufacturing employees on Earth won the lottery and was able to afford a spaceship. They disliked the corporate control that was exploiting the people of Earth, so they decided to start a socialist colony on the one world where no one would care. They informed the Stellar Imperium that they intended to settle Jillara and were rewarded with meager financial backing with which to try and develop something there. Many people have since decided that they too wanted a way out of the society of the core worlds without having to face the extreme uncertainties of the Frontier Worlds, and they too have settled there.
Their anti-corporate origins have influenced the attitudes and policies of the colony to this day. Ever since the fall of the Imperium, a “dog eat dog,” “every man for himself” attitude has pervaded civilized space. The founders of the settlement had seen firsthand how unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism tended to exploit the common man while consolidating wealth and power for those who already had it, as well as how governments could be corrupted by corporate money to reinforce such a system. To that end, the first colonists set out to establish a society where the government was focused solely on the well-being of its citizens.
This day-to-day security comes with its own responsibilities. Every person who lives on Jillara is expected to work on food and housing production unless they happen to be too young, infirm, or old. Those who cannot do hard labor but have other useful skills are put to work in other necessary fields, particularly teaching. Education is of paramount importance, and many of the people there are considered white-collar laborers. They work because they choose to even though they could find a far more comfortable job with one of the corporations elsewhere. Those with engineering or technical expertise are put to work maintaining power generators, agricultural equipment, and any other technological devices that require repair and maintenance. The residents of Jillara hope that their colony will serve as an example of how humans – and indeed any race – can live in peace and cooperation.
This does not mean Jillara is a utopian worker’s paradise. Though there is some business and manufacturing, the colony’s rejection of the pursuit of profit has made trade problematic. Luxury goods are rare, since the making of non-essential items takes away from the production of necessities. Because Jillara does not produce much of value, trade with other planets is limited. A schism has formed between traditionalists who want to maintain they communal socialist spirit the colony was founded upon and the reformers who wish to implement some limited, heavily regulated capitalism. The traditionalists fear that introducing even a fraction of free trade is a slippery slope to the rampant corporate control that they were so desperate to escape, while the reformers argue that, as long as the spirit of community is maintained, Jillara could enjoy some of the benefits of both systems, increasing the quality of life for its citizens and eventually becoming a player on the galactic stage.
The people of Jillara have hardly noticed the absence of the Stellar Imperium. They were used to fending for themselves before the collapse, so it was natural to keep doing what they were already doing after the collapse. The one thing that worries them is that the planet used to rely on Imperium forces to protect it from invaders. They are unable to afford to hire mercenaries for protection, which leaves them in a precarious situation from which they must simply hope that nobody will think that their colony world is worth bothering with. While this strategy has worked so far, many believe that it is just a matter of time before some hostile force takes an interest in them. In response to this, and in the spirit of community cooperation, a small but growing faction has been calling for volunteers to organize into militias. Though growing in popularity, this movement remains controversial, and even its supporters have to admit that such an enterprise is not without its own problems. The fact of the matter is that Jillaran society simply does not lend itself to the two most important factors in forming a militia: training and arms. Training takes time away from work, work that is necessary for the survival not just of the individual but the whole community. Acquiring weapons is even more of an issue; dedicating manufacturing resources to the production of munitions is infeasible, and Jillara does not have the means to purchase them from elsewhere. Of course, “impossible” is a word they left behind when they came here (as many Jillarans are fond of saying), and a few of the more inventive engineers have cobbled together some truly impressive jury-rigged weapons that are just as effective as blasters. The reform movement has latched onto the idea of militias, citing the need to provide for the defense of the colony as a prime example of the necessity of their proposals. Of course, this seemingly militaristic bent only makes the traditionalists more nervous.
Plot Hooks: The crew is hired to transport new settlers to Jillara; an ex-military PC has been requested to help train one of the new militias; the party takes part in some unauthorized trading with a member of the reform faction.
Planet Type: Terrestrial
Climate: Mostly frozen
Equatorial Circumference: 22,825 miles
Planetary Diameter: 7,265 miles
Major Industry: Precious metals/minerals
Government Type: Theocracy
Rotation: 24 hours
Orbit: Approximately .5 Earth years
If it weren’t for the precious metals and minerals buried beneath the ice of Lato, this harsh planet would most likely not be worth the time or effort to colonize. As it stands, only those hearty individuals who know how to thrive in extremely cold temperatures – mostly Russians, with some Canadians and a handful of Americans from Alaska and the northern continental states – choose to stay here for any duration. Mine work takes place underground, so those workers can mostly avoid the cold, but even they are forced into the hostile climate any time they come and go from work, or wish to travel anywhere.
The inhabitants of Lato produce food in enormous subterranean spaces. This includes plant life as well as animal life; however, meat goes for a premium price because of the fact that livestock must eat a large amount of plant matter to grow to a size where they can be harvested. Poultry and pork, as a result, are the most common, with red meat being practically a delicacy. The easiest crops to grow – and thus the most numerous – on Lato are vegetables already at home underground: tubers, roots, and bulbs, such as potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, radishes, turnips, and yams. The scarcity of leafy greens and citrus meant increased chances for vitamin C and K deficiencies among the early miners. This had been solved in the past with vitamin pills; however, with interstellar trade becoming more haphazard in recent years, the colony is now facing a shortage of dietary supplements, and cases of scurvy are on the rise. Work-related injuries are also more costly, since a lack of vitamin K causes impaired coagulation, and thus injured workers take longer to recover. In order to combat this, efforts have been made recently to diversify the crops in the underground farms. The extra resources it takes to do this, however, have led to a spike in food prices across the board, leaving the authorities in charge of infrastructure with a tough decision between the lesser of two evils.
When the Stellar Imperium fell, a group of religious zealots, who were already in high managerial positions, vied for political power and upon election, they declared that the planet would be run in accordance with the teachings of Christianity. This has not set well with a number of factions within the miners, particularly certain elements of the Russian Mafia that have been entrenched here since the earliest days of the colony. The new regime’s intolerance for vices of any kind is diametrically opposed to the syndicate’s long standing tradition of providing “unorthodox” stress relief for the miners. Still, they realized they must tread carefully, as any overt show of force or attempt at bribery would bring the full wrath of the righteous down on their heads. Thus, they have been waging a shadow campaign against the theocratic administration, attempting to discredit them at every opportunity so as to elicit a return to the way things had been. They are quickly becoming more and more outnumbered, however: as one of the few places in the galaxy where religious law holds sway, many people have settled here based on their religious beliefs alone regardless of the nature of the work or the harsh climate. Indeed, since Lato was one of the earliest Earth colonies and has been mined for several centuries, the mines are beginning to run out, leaving very little reason to otherwise come to the planet.
The eventual depletion of the planet’s resources is also a major driving force behind the campaign against Igand. Lato seeks to conquer Igand due to the long history they had of managing the asteroid mining in that system. With such a small population, the powers that be know they cannot spare their own security forces for such an endeavor. Therefore, much like Igand, they rely heavily on mercenaries and raiders to do their fighting for them, leading to what amounts to a proxy war between the two outposts. The most fervent supporters of the current government are still behind the effort, pointing to how the use of mercenaries has lead to the conflict having little impact on their everyday lives. Others, however, decry the vast amount of the planet’s resources that are going to fund these surrogate soldiers, especially with all the problems the colony is currently facing, and derisively refer to the mission to retake the asteroid as “The Igand Crusade.” As with most theocracies, dissent is often branded as heresy, and harshly punished. This heavy-handedness has only led to more discord, especially among those families who can trace their ancestry back to the original colonists and are beginning to see the new religious pilgrims as interlopers. Such unrest plays directly into the hands of the players behind the scenes who are attempting to overthrow the current administration; however, those who currently hold power do so with the fanatical conviction of people who firmly believe the Lord is on their side, and view any insurrection as not only a threat to their own authority, but a challenge to the will of God. If there is to be a revolution, it is likely to be messy.
Plot Hooks: The party is tasked to secure some much needed medical supplies; the authorities are amassing a large group of mercenaries to take Igand; the PC’s are hired to transport some minerals off planet, but are hijacked by revolutionaries.
Planet Type: Rocky planet
Equatorial Circumference: 3,943
Planetary Diameter: 1255 miles
Major Industry: Metal/mineral mining
Government Type: Socialist
Rotation: 32 hours
Orbit: Approximately 3 Earth years
Sanyth is the outermost of all of the colonies originally settled by Earth. Despite its location, the planet is so rich in precious and exotic metals that most people consider it wildly successful. This is despite the fact that settling Sanyth was no easy task. The rocky surface is inconducive to plant growth, and the thin atmosphere is barely breathable to humans; any strenuous labor (such as mining) would cause people to pass out due to lack of oxygen. In the early days of the colony, foodstuffs had to be shipped in at great cost and miners had to wear oxygen tanks while they worked. This turned out, as one might expect, to be a practice with diminishing returns, as the heavy tanks wore out the miners more quickly. Being one of the first settlers to Sanyth meant dealing with subpar working conditions while subsisting on carefully rationed food. Thus, only the stoic and tough were able to stick it out here.
These days, life on Sanyth is considerably easier, if not exactly luxurious. The mines have been atmospherically sealed and pressurized, so the need for oxygen tanks is gone. Most residences and public buildings are similarly airtight, and when people do go outside, they usually take a small emergency reserve oxygen tank with them. Everyone is taught from a very young age to recognize the signs of oxygen deprivation – disorientation, short-term memory loss, lack of motor control, increased heart rate, a flushed face, and so on – and how to react if they notice any of these symptoms in themselves or their companions. Of course, having lived here all their lives, most of the current residents of Sanyth are well adapted to the alien climate; some can jog for miles in the open atmosphere without passing out or resorting to their oxygen reserves. Also, after several years of attempting to establish agrofarms on the planet’s surface, the administrators found it to be easier and more cost effective to build massive orbital greenhouse stations. There they could artificially enrich the soil and maintain a prime growing climate, even adjusting the stations’ orientation to get the most sunlight. In this manner they have remained self-sufficient for many decades.
Despite the improvements in quality of life since the days of Sanyth’s founding, the trials of the early colonists continue to influence the character of the native population. The residents of Sanyth are a hardy, industrious lot who have little patience for “whiners.” Anyone who is overheard complaining about anything is quickly reminded how good they have it compared to the people who first settled here, even though no one is alive today who actually remembers the colony’s founding. Sanythians are fond of many cliche sayings: “one day at a time,” “such is life,” “whatever will be will be,” and others that reflect their indomitable spirit. They pride themselves on being able to accept, adjust and adapt to anything the universe throws at them. When presented with news, either good or bad, most Sanythians simply reply, “We shall see,” a reference to a classic Zen koan about a boy and his horse, where every good turn led to something bad, which led to something good, and so on.
Now that the Stellar Imperium is gone, Sanyth has formed its own government, which provides a modest living for the people who live and work there. Because metals have become more difficult to find on the open market, they have tripled their prices and found that they have just as many customers as they did before. Despite the fact that the planet is now earning a great deal more money than they were before the fall of the Stellar Imperium, this has not translated into an increase in the quality of life for the people who live on the planet. Some of the people have noticed this, but, true to their origins, feel that it is just par for the course and live with it.
Some of the extra money generated by Sanyth is used to employ privateers. As with many planets that produce products for others, Sanyth has a raider problem, which originates at Rover’s Beacon in orbit around nearby Teron. Rather than spend the extra money on hiring mercenaries to protect them, they instead decided to turn piracy against itself by allowing raiders to make better money preying upon those who would steal their goods than they would by being one of the ones stealing the goods. The rate they pay for authenticated raider kills varies from privateer to privateer, but the program has been successful to the point where the space around Sanyth has garnered the reputation of being death for raiders. While this has served to deter the majority of pirates from the system, a few of the major players on Rover’s Beacon see Saynth as a challenge, and expend a good deal of the capital they earn from the miners on Teron testing their mettle against the hostile space of the Saynthian system.
Speaking of Teron: the residents of Saynth are not ignorant of the arrangement the miners there have with the raiders of Rover’s Beacon, and they are not pleased with what they view as the subsidizing of piracy in their system. The authorities on Saynth have begun to directly hire agents to infiltrate Rover’s Beacon and disrupt the raiders’ operations from within. This is more of a gamble than they realize; if their meddling is ever discovered, it could spark open conflict between the two colonies, likely to be fought with raider proxies.
Plot Hooks: The crew is hired by Sanyth authorities to infiltrate Rover’s Beacon and take out a prominent raider captain; the party is conscripted to help out with a major mining accident; the PC’s ship is mistaken for a raider vessel and attacked by privateers.
Planet Type: Gas giant
Color: Orange and white striped with swirling storms
Equatorial Circumference: 741,137 miles
Planetary Diameter: 235,911 miles
Major Industry: Gas mining
Government Type: Anarchy
Rotation: 8 hours
Orbit: Approximately 11 Earth years
Unlike Corrya, which was established at the direction and under the authority of Earth government, Teron was opened up for private enterprise. The gas mining on this massive world occurs on nearly a hundred small mining platforms that float in the upper atmosphere, most of which are owned by different corporations. In the past, mining permits were doled out by the United Earth Council (first as the primary governing body of human controlled space, then later under the direction of the Stellar Imperium) so that production could be monitored and trade lanes could be patrolled. As such, there has never been official government for this world, so it naturally follows that, with fall of the Imperium and Earth focused on its own concerns, there are currently no restrictions on who can place mining platforms here.
Another marked difference from Corrya is the dynamic between worker and management, again due in large part to their different origins. Though the directors of the various platforms certainly have the opportunity, due to the absence of regulation, to run their operations as they see fit, most choose not to do so. These small, close-knit groups have each developed an almost familial bond that does not lend itself to heavy-handed leadership. This has led to the people of Teron having an almost tribal culture. Each platform considers itself a small community, and while there is some cooperation between communities, there are also disagreements. When diplomacy fails, the preferred method for settling disputes is a ceremonial combat where two individuals are tied to one-another at the wrist, and then given knives in their off-hands. Combats sometimes go to the death, but they can also be settled when one of the combatants draws first blood. Many other, less deadly customs are rigidly defined and honored by all natives of the planet, such as bowing and offering a small gift when requesting permission to board a mining platform, or the bestowing of nicknames on family or very close friends (calling someone you don’t know well by a nickname is construed as being insultingly familiar). Even those facilities that have sprung up in the years since the fall of the Imperium have taken up these customs, finding themselves ostracized and isolated if they refused to respect them.
Rover’s Beacon orbits Teron, accounting for one hundred thousand of its present population. This station serves as Teron’s space port, and it is a known haven for raiders since the fall of the Imperium. They feel so safe that they operate openly and most don’t even bother attempting to maintain the appearance of having a legitimate line of work. Anyone is welcome here, but don’t try and muscle in on the local “business” – that’s a sure way to get yourself killed. The downside of staying here for any length of time is that their enemies know where to look for them, and more than one notorious captain has met his demise within the confines of this facility.
The proximity of so many known raiders is obviously a major concern for the multitude of mining operations on the planet, as the massive transports which carry the fruits of their labor out of the system are slow and ungainly and thus easy prey for raiders. The miners do not have the resources, either individually or collectively, to hire security forces to protect their cargos, leaving them largely at the pirates’ mercy. This could have spelled the end of Teron several years ago if it were not for the out-of-the-box thinking of Thomas Hodgeman, the director of DS-1019, one of the larger mining platforms on the planet. Braving a meeting with several of the raider captains, he pointed out to them that, unless the facilities on Teron could turn a profit, they would all have to be shut down and the pirates would lose their little paradise. He then proposed an unconventional solution: a mutually beneficial protection racket. Each platform would negotiate a flat rate with a raider group of their choice in exchange for conducting their business unmolested. The pirates would get direct cash without having to work for it, and the miners can stay in business without fearing for their lives.
Much to Hodgeman’s surprise (as he later openly admitted that he’d initially expected to be either laughed off the station – or shot), the raiders accepted his proposal. His fellow platform managers, seeing little alternative, also agreed to the arrangement, which has worked out better than even Hodgeman himself imagined. In fact, a sort of “grey market” of protection contracts has sprung up among the pirates of Rover’s Beacon, with certain groups trying to underbid others in an effort to increase the number of platforms under their “protection.” It seems Hodgeman’s gamble on the raiders’ love for easy money paid off; several captains seem intent on amassing enough pacts that they can “retire” from raiding and live off the fees from the miners. One practice that started out as a joke but quickly became a tradition is for the raiders to paint the logos of their corporate “sponsors” on their ships like the race cars of old. It’s far from a friendly competition, however. The phrase “hostile takeover” takes on a very literal meaning in this business, and a few gang wars have erupted over the last few years as rival pirate ships attempted to eliminate each other to free up more “contracts.”
Plot Hooks: The party nearly starts an inter-platform conflict when they attempt to deliver a message without following the proper customs; a raider captain hires the PC’s to subtly eliminate a rival; an ambitious facility manager has plans to surreptitiously arm his transports, turning them into small capital ships and upsetting the delicate balance of power between miners and raiders.
Planet Type: Terrestrial
Climate: Cold and arid
Equatorial Circumference: 21,063 miles
Planetary Diameter: 6,705 miles
Major Industry: Penal colony
Government Type: Socialist
Rotation: 22 hours
Orbit: Approximately 3 Earth years
Unnir was settled near the beginning of the Interstellar Concord as a penal colony. Most planets tried to rehabilitate people, but this approach was found to only work with approximately half of the criminals. Those whose crimes were so severe that they would have been executed in bygone ages were dumped unceremoniously off on the main continent of Unnir and left to their own devices. Unlike the prison settlements of Earth during the colonial era, there were not governors or other colonists to whom the convicts were indentured to. As such, there was little to no incentive to provide the deportees with even the most basic necessities; most were herded onto shuttles which were locked into autopilot, the shuttles launched, and the transport ship gone from the system before they even made landfall. Many of the “settlers” died, most became hermits and lived the remainder of their lives alone, but some did eventually come together to create a less than harmonious community.
The three-and-a-half century history of Unnir has become a case study in civics and humanities classes at universities all across human space. How could a group of people that had been deemed too violent and depraved to be redeemable mange to form an enduring, if relatively primitive, civilization? The answer, in retrospect, is quite simple: in building their own society from the ground up, they came to intrinsically understand how it worked and why it was necessary.
The early days of life on Unnir were quite as one would expect: the strong preyed on the weak, taking what they wanted by virtue of being bigger and meaner than the others. Those who had the skills, or at least the wherewithal, to survive on this less-than-hospitable world lived almost as serfs to the thugs who “owned” them. It did not take long, however, for this “craftsman” class to embrace the concept of strength in numbers. Within a few decades, there were a handful of small communities wherein the members worked together towards the mutual goals of protection and survival. For the most part, these disparate tribes had little to do with each other, for though this world was far from plentiful as far as natural resources were concerned, the population was small enough that there was no need to fight over anything – anything, that is, except women.
One statistic that has remained constant in the realm of criminal justice is the fact that the vast majority of violent offenders are male. What women were deported here at first had to face a situation that could only be described as barbaric. Even though individually each of them were as tough and vicious as their male counterparts, they were still immeasurably outnumbered, and many were kept as prisoners by gangs of men, forced to suffer the depraved whims of their captors. Often the only recourse they had was to escape their bondage and hope to find a tribe that would offer them better treatment if they would give themselves willingly. It didn’t take long for the men to realize that the best way to attract and keep their females was to treat them decently. As communities began to form and society started to normalize, the role of women transformed drastically. A town’s wealth could be measured in the number of females it possessed, and access to the women was doled out as a reward for service to the community. Occasionally certain groups would raid each other to steal the women away, but more often they were used as bargaining chips in trade or to cement alliances. True, women were just a commodity, but they were the most valuable commodity on the planet, and as such they eventually had by far the easiest lives on Unnir. This attitude was so pervasive that even today, when generations of natural breeding have made these practices obsolete, women are still treated with a great amount of respect.
Life on Unnir today would be considered primitive by most, but it suits the residents just fine. The original colonists were obviously not much for authority, so no official government was ever established. That does not mean, however, that anarchy is the rule. The importance of community has been instilled throughout the generations, and disruption of civil order is not tolerated. Punishments are swift and severe, when the community deigns to get involved at all; minor disagreements are left to be settled by the parties themselves, unless their feud spills over into the general public. Child rearing also reinforces the bond of community; because of the particular breeding practices that originated here, most of the first children born on Unnir could not be sure of who their fathers were. To that end, the responsibility of raising this first generation of offspring fell to the community at large, a practice that continues still, even though traditional family units have become the norm.
These families are now just in need of protection as the societies the original inhabitants came from, and so a semblance of planetary government has been established to deal with the criminals who are still brought here when they are deemed unfit to rehabilitate; this entity charges a hefty fee for every criminal left here. These fees have allowed Unnir the opportunity to trade with other planets for much needed technology, since they have no exports of value. As a result, the criminals who are brought to Unnir are housed in a facility that resembles a walled off city-sized apartment complex that is patrolled by a small army of peacekeepers. Although hostile forces have never been a problem, escapes have been, and this is compounded by the fact that there is has never been a governing body patrolling the world. In the past three years there have been twelve escape attempts, half of which have been successful.
Plot Hooks: The crew is hired to transport a new prisoner to Unnir – and negotiate the fee for his deposit; certain parties are willing to pay a hefty bounty to retrieve a particularly dangerous escapee; a wealthy playboy obsessed with genealogy needs an escort to investigate possible family ties on Unnir.
Planet Type: Terrestrial
Climate: Uncomfortably hot
Equatorial Circumference: 20,877 miles
Planetary Diameter: 6,645 miles
Major Industry: Colony
Government Type: Democracy
Rotation: 24 hours
Orbit: Approximately .5 Earth years
Upagra lies a mere fifteen light years from Earth. It was the first terrestrial planet discovered by humans that could support life, so it was an easy decision to colonize it. Despite the vast range of animal and plant life, Upagra is, on average twenty degrees warmer than Earth, making most Earth natives uncomfortable in the heat, particularly in the equatorial regions. Still, overpopulation was a pressing issue, so many governments and organizations on Earth began sponsorship programs to send people from poorer equatorial and tropical regions, such as Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, to the new planet at little or no cost to the colonists themselves. As a result, Caucasians are a minority among the native population even today. This world is known for vast deserts, dense jungles, shallow warm oceans, and a complete lack of icecaps. Snowfall occurs only at the highest mountain peaks.
The first colonists were faced with a steep learning curve; the native flora and fauna had evolved to adapt to the harsh climate and were quite hardy. Early attempts at supplanting traditional Earth food crops met with dismal failure, and colonists were faced with the choice of settling in the blistering deserts or fighting an uphill battle clearing away the jungle. On top of all this, Upagra’s ecosystem had bred some of the fiercest predators mankind would ever see, and they had no reason to fear humans. Despite these setbacks, human ingenuity once again proved more stalwart than its environs. Xenobotanists began examining and cataloguing the vast array of plant life in the jungles, determining which ones were safe for human consumption. Settlers began building their communities in harmony with the local environment instead of trying to clear it away; almost all of these early “tree villages” still remain to this day.
Coastal regions are popular vacation spots, and are responsible for generating nearly half of the planet’s income. Many of the native tropical fruits are not only edible but quite palatable, and local restaurateurs have developed a plethora of delicious desserts and cocktails that feature the local produce. One of the biggest attractions is the Upagra Martial Arts Tournament. Among the earliest settlers were practitioners of various lesser known regional fighting styles, such as Muay Thai, Capoeira, Silat, Dambe, Bando, Pehlwani, and Qwan Ki Do. In order to relieve the considerable stress of attempting to colonize such a planet, impromptu matches were organized and fought between martially trained colonists. Eventually, once the settlement of the planet was finally well underway, these informal bouts were organized into official tournaments, with devotees of particular forms banding together into teams to compete for the glory of their chosen style. Today, the biggest of these is an annual, planet-wide tourney that attracts spectators and competitors from all across human space. The current tournament champion is Tatchakorn Yeerum, an Upagra native and Muay Thai master.
Even without the considerable income that the tourism industry provides, Upagra would still remain a self-sufficient colony. Vast air conditioned facilities that manufacture electronic equipment dot the landscape, and the exotic fruits are a major export. Biologists from across the known galaxy still set up research stations to study the savage beauty and mind-boggling complexity of the planet’s ecosystem, and Upagra’s universities are widely considered to have the best life science programs in all of human space. Environmental groups on Earth have sponsored programs on crossbreeding Upagran plant life with Earth’s native flora order to restore the human homeworld’s damaged ecosystem. Most recently, studies have begun to try and find a way to combat the mutant virus running rampant on Dorang.
Despite the considerable success the colony of Upagra has achieved, it is not without its problems. Vicious native predators still stalk the jungles and deserts; due to some environmental forward-thinking when the colony was founded, the killing of native wildlife for anything other than self-defense or food was outlawed (and even hunting for game was carefully monitored). As a result, the native fauna still shows little fear of the human interlopers, and while this has made the Upagran Zoo a popular family attraction, it also means the occasional rogue carnivore must be dealt with. Of course, when it comes to hunting, as with all things, just because it’s largely illegal doesn’t stop people from doing it. Poaching is a major issue, and trophies from Upagran game can fetch a small fortune on the black market.
And the black market is alive and well here. Because Upagra is a popular vacation spot, it is also a popular place for criminals and other unsavory elements. Prostitution, illegal hunting “safaris,” gambling, drugs – especially new designer narcotics derived from the local wildlife – are all a part of the “unadvertised” Upagran experience. The trafficking of illicit substances is big business here, as is the trade of arms. Many crimes that begin on Earth are traced back to Upagra. Organized crime is also firmly entrenched here, with both South American cartels and Asian Tongs having cells scattered across the planet. These various syndicates wage a constant underground “cold war,” each of them realizing that open conflict would drive away their more upscale clients, as well as regular tourists, which would quickly bring the authorities down on their heads. Even so, several times in the past tensions have risen to the point where all-out war seemed inevitable. So far, cooler heads prevailed, but many among their ranks believe it is only a matter of time before diplomacy will not be enough to avert bloodshed.
Plot Hooks: A popular resort is being menaced by a pack of predators; a close combat focused member of the party may want to try their hand at one of Upagra’s tournaments; an experiment at one of Upagra’s many science labs goes catastrophically wrong; desperate for credits, the PC’s agree to smuggle some contraband for one of the local crime lords.